Thailand’s February 2 elections have been ruled invalid by the Thai Constitutional Court. In a ruling of six votes to three the court decided the elections had been unconstitutional as they had not taken place on the same day across the country. It is unclear when new elections will be held.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had called early elections following the anti-government protests in November last year. But both the registration process of candidates and the voting itself were obstructed by protesters. In 28 constituencies there was no candidate due to the failure of the registration process.
The blocking of polling stations before the elections led to clashes between government support groups, the police, and anti-government activists. According to news reports, at 49 out of Bangkok’s 50 polling stations voting was either completely blocked or halted. In 10 out of 76 provinces throughout Thailand voting was disrupted as well. Following the elections, claims by the Democrat Party that the elections had violated the constitution had been dismissed by Thailand’s constitutional court. Re-runs of the elections were scheduled to be held on 27 April in constituencies where voting was obstructed.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said when the next elections were held, the protesters would ‘take care of every province and the election won’t be successful again.’ The protest groups criticise the government for corruption and nepotism and are united in their goal to remove the Yingluck government which they allege is orchestrated from abroad by Thaksin. Their proposed plan for political reform includes the establishment of a non-elected ‘people’s council’ which will draft legislation and push for anti-corruption reforms and electoral reform.
Even though the street protests have decreased over the last weeks, the country remains deeply divided. While Yingluck and her ruling Pheu Thai Party have strong support by workers and farmers in the rural North and Northeast of Thailand, the majority of Thailand’s urban middle class favour the opposition Yingluck’s position is further weakened by the impeachment she is facing by Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission over the country’s failed rice subsidy scheme.